The Grayson County Fire Marshal’s office said strong winds and a buried propane tank hindered efforts to extinguish a large fire that destroyed a Van Alstyne home late Saturday night.
Grayson County Fire Marshal Andy Brazie said 911 dispatchers received phone calls from residents in the 400 block of Derby Drive at approximately 11:40 p.m. Saturday who reported seeing flames burning through the top of a neighboring home. Brazie said the property owners were out of town when the fire broke out but their adult son, his wife and their young child were at the home and were taking care of the residence in their absence. All three were able to exit the house, but Brazie said the man was taken to an area hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.
“We had 20 to 25 mph winds that night,” Brazie said Monday. “So, it didn’t take much just to blow that fire completely through the house.”
The fire marshal also said responding crews from Van Alstyne, Tom Bean, Gunter, Howe, Anna and Locust were forced to wait as the gas from an underground propane tank burned off. Brazie said an above-ground tank likely would have exploded from exposure to the fire’s high temperatures, but because the home’s tank was insulated from the heat, flames only destroyed an exposed regulator and the escaping gas.
“They could have kept trying to put the fire out, but the propane still would have been blowing out in the air and catching with the ignition source,” Brazie said of the crews’ situation. “The gas has to go someplace and you don’t exactly know where it’s going to ignite. So, it’s better just to let it go ahead and burn off right there.”
Brazie said those staying at home reportedly used small fireworks outside the house several hours before the flames broke out, but it was still too early to determine what caused the fire. Despite the pending identification of a source, Brazie urged firework users to exercise caution and common sense ahead of the approaching Fourth of July holiday.
“It’s not just the shooting off of fireworks that causes problems,” Brazie said. “When people put them in a garbage sack and throw it in the trash can while they’re still hot or there may still be live embers, they can start fires. That can then spread to your house and it just goes from bad to worse.”